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Rural Health Information Hub

Definition of Telehealth

Telehealth allows providers to deliver health and human services to rural areas using a range of technologies. The Health Resources and Services Administration defines telehealth as:

“The use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical healthcare, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.”

The National Telehealth Policy Resource Center's Center for Connected Health Policy uses a similar description:

“A collection of means or methods for enhancing healthcare, public health and health education delivery and support using telecommunications technologies.”

Though the terms “telehealth” and “telemedicine” are often used interchangeably, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology identifies some key differences. While telehealth can be used to deliver a broad range of medical care, education, and public health services, telemedicine typically focuses on exchanging medical information and providing diagnosis and treatment. The regional Telehealth Resource Centers provide additional clarify about a framework for defining telehealth.

RHIhub's Telehealth Use in Rural Healthcare topic guide provides a comprehensive overview and frequently asked questions about telehealth.

Resources to Learn More

What is Telehealth?
Provides a general overview of telehealth and serves as a national telehealth policy resource center.
Organization(s): Center for Connected Health Policy: The National Telehealth Policy Resource Center

Telemedicine and Telehealth
Defines telehealth and describes the technologies and applications used to deliver healthcare services. Links to key federal telehealth resources.
Organization(s): Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology